Friday, 12 March 2010
The Line Of The Lord
The Code of Canon Law requires all Catholics to confess mortal sins at least once a year. As a Muslim, I ask God directly for such forgiveness five times a day without any cleric taking over my soul.
We will closely look at what Catholic confessions mean but first allow me to announce the news that French Roman Catholics now have a pay-by-the-minute confession telephone line that charges 0.34 Euros plus a connection charge for mobile phones.
Bishops are upset over the religious stunt and Catholic leaders have stated that ‘the fraud had no approval from the Catholic Church in France’. This is how a male voice greets Catholics when they dial up the Le Fil Du Seigneur (The Line of the Lord): ‘For advice on confessing, press one. To confess, press two. To listen to some confessions, press three’.
A group of Catholics working for AABAS set up the phone confession service at the beginning of Lent (the forty days' Christian fast preceding Easter). The group’s leader admits that ‘it does not offer absolution for sins, but Catholics can confess minor sins. For actual absolution for sins, only a priest can help but the money from the calls got to charity’.
At this rate, all Catholics will soon outdo pious Muslims who insist on performing Umra and Hajj at Makkah, not one but multiple times. The Catholic Church, instead of helping people commit less sins, has taken upon itself to forgive them on behalf of God and His messengers.
Now let us see compare what the Church literature says with what God commands. My aim is not to offend or provoke but rather to help good Christians walk on a path prescribed by Prophet Jesus.
"There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive." Pg. 256, #982
"By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized..." P. 257, #986
"The Church, who through the bishop and his priests forgives sins in the name of Jesus Christ..." Pg. 363-364, #1448
"Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.'" P. 367, #1461
"The Church must be able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their lives." P. 255, #979
"Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift." P. 256, #983
Considering that the contents of the entire Bible do not come from God or from Jesus Christ (Prophet Isa for Muslims), let us look at what the Bible says about forgiveness of sins:
"Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" Mark 2:7
"And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"I acknowledged my sin unto thee... I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin..." Psalm 32:5.
David asks God for forgiveness: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight..." Psalm 51:2,4
King Solomon was also aware that he and the children of Israel could pray directly to God to seek forgiveness for their sins: "Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive." 2 Chronicles 6:21
God commands people to come to Him for forgiveness: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
God does not require anyone to go through a church or a priest to seek forgiveness for their sins. "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." Psalm 86:5
"... if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Colossians 3:13
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities..." Psalm 103:2-3
While almost all Christians agree that repentance and forgiveness of others are great virtues, and that forgiveness must be sought from God, many feel lost in the jungle of doctrinal differences about the process of forgiveness. This is how the books of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John justify it.
In Catholic doctrine, Jesus had the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9:2, Luke 5:20).
Jesus granted that authority also to His apostles (Matthew 16:18-19, Matthew 18:18, John 20:22-23).
What is the instrument used for this process? In Catholic doctrine, the authority to forgive sins remains with the Church through the bishops as successors of the apostles through the sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as confession or the sacrament of Penance). A sinner confesses his or her sins to the priest who assigns a penance (often some prayers to recite) and grants forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’
The old school Protestant doctrine prefers severe penances such as fasts, pilgrimages and floggings. In the Middle Ages, the Roman Church made fortunes by selling ‘indulgences’ to reduce the severity of such penances in exchange for monetary contributions to the Church, and which led to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Protestants naturally rejected the Roman Catholic Church's sacrament of Penance, its claims of apostolic succession, and its authority to forgive sins (1 Timothy 2:5).
Authority on doctrine was placed in ‘Scripture alone’ rather than in the Church. For most Protestants, the Church is instrumental in bringing people to repentance, but the power to forgive sins belongs to God and Christ alone.
According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Penance (Confession, Reconciliation or Penance according to Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 1423-1442) is the method given by Christ to the Church by which individual men and women may be freed from sins committed after receiving Baptism. It is not necessary to confess sins committed before baptism, as baptism itself is considered to remove the guilt of all prior sins.). While the official Church publications of the Latin-rite always refer to the sacrament as ‘Penance’, ‘Reconciliation or ‘Penance and Reconciliation’, the average Catholic continues to use the term ‘confession’.
In 1215, a requirement that every Catholic Christian receive this sacrament at least once a year was instituted in Canon 21, the famous "Omnis utriusque sexus", of the Canon Law at the Fourth Council of the Lateran. Catholics believe that no priest, as an individual man—no matter how pious—has the power to forgive sins apart from God. However, the priest does not merely announce that the penitent has received God's forgiveness but rather recites the formula of absolution and forgives the sins of the penitent in God's place. Hallelujah!
On Judgment Day, Christ will question the erring before God passes judgment on such novel religious innovations.